As I type this on the screened porch (a lovely Indian Summer evening out there), a small herd of white-tailed deer flits peacefully across the lawn, all seems right with the world, and a general magnanimity toward humankind pervades -- aided materially, I'm sure, by the second Samuel Adams Winter Lager that twinkles benignly at my elbow.
It was not always thus, today.
Eleven o'clock this morning (that would be noon to you spring-forward-fall-behind rebels out there) saw Betty Jingo and myself darkening the door of the Obama office in Purcellville, Virginia, ready to offer our services in any way that might help. "Oh, but we don't start canvassing until noon," the office manager, Natasha, purred. Pointing to my watch indignantly and averring that it was already past noon and damned well time to start knocking on doors, I was, I'll grant, a bit chopfallen when reminded of the biannual ritual of clock-mucking. Sighing heavily to cover my embarrassment, I enquired as to what might be the best use of our time until the actual hour approached. The answer was Visibility.
This entailed wandering Purcellville's Main Street, waving homemade "Vote Obama!" signs at passing traffic. For the edification of young minds about what a dreadfully conflicted country we remain, I can offer no better exercise.
Many, many cars hooted approval. Quite a few offered thumbs-up signs. Not as many assayed the pollice verso, which was gratifying. Thus a little less than an hour passed. (Young Betty, nearly seventeen, was utterly mortified to watch Daddikins make a fool of himself on the thoroughfare, and spent the hour skulking behind a mailbox.)
An Obama campaign worker appeared at the corner of Twenty-First and Main, signaling us to return to base. It was still fifteen minutes before the "real" noon, so I was a bit puzzled. As I began to comply with his orders, a police cruiser shot in front of me and its driver signaled me to stop in my tracks. Puzzled, I complied. He informed me that a complaint had been filed, asserting that Obama workers had been obstructing traffic and causing trouble outside the local gun-shop, a couple of blocks away. That the gun-shop had the largest McCain/Palin sign ever seen in this county prominently displayed over its door might have offered the good officer a hint as to the complaint's motivation, but I held my tongue, accepted the censure politely, and prepared to move on. The officer then offered this gem:
"Look, you just can't be out here causing trouble, or even the appearance of it. Think of the guy you're working for. He needs you to be on your best behavior. To be honest with you, I'm voting for the guy myself, and that's really why I'm telling you this...."
You rawk, officer.
And one more thing. To the young man who leaned out his truck window and snarled, "It's called the White House" to me and Betty, I thank you. Really, I do. There, just outside the White Palace -- in the 1920s, the headquarters of the Purcellville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan -- you did me a great service.
You reminded me exactly why I'm doing this.